CULTURE MATTERS: Jackson skatepark to host first contest

By on August 13, 2013

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Before Jeff Moran was a snowboarder, he was a skateboarder. The now free ride program director at the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club begged his parents for a small board and started skating when he was about 5 years old.

It was one of the hardest things he’s ever done. It could take years to learn a new trick, and he was the only person who cared. There were breaking bones, spills on concrete and sprained ankles.

“You are just trying to reach the next level of personal achievement,” he said. “No one said anything is supposed to be easy.”

It’s a lesson he carried over into snowboarding when he picked up the sport in the 1980s and something he sees in the kids he works with at the Ski and Snowboard Club. That’s why he is helping to host Jackson’s first skateboarding contest series.

The Wild West Skateboard Contest Series starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the skate park off Gregory Lane.

The contest is being put on by Moran, Claire Johnson of CJ Management, who is an avid supporter of skateboarding, and Lauri Aittola, owner of the Boardroom, along with Teton County Parks and Recreation.

The series is meant to provide an outlet for local skaters, but also to showcase Jackson’s park, Moran said. The goal is to make the event a regional draw for competitors, but also bring out the community. There will be food, sponsors selling gear and also music, he said.

The contest will feature street and bowl skating and is open to males and females of all ages and abilities. There is an open, or pro, division that will offer cash prizes.

Street skating evolved from using features and riding on public streets. The skate park has street features that mimic those found in public areas. The park also features bowls from smaller concrete depressions three-feet deep, to one that is 11-feet deep where a fall at the top can have serious consequences, Moran said.

The park is shaped with features like corners and escalators. Jackson’s park is a particularly fun place to skate because it has the classic features found in most parks, but also a variety of unique ones to challenge riders, Moran said.

There are a lot of people who might not realize how big skateboarding is in the community. For Moran, there is huge crossover in the kids he works with through the ski and snowboard club, especially with snowboarders, but also free-skiers.

The sport teaches perseverance from how to get up after a hard fall, but also “overall air awareness,” how the body moves when suspended for that brief moment of flight and how to control the fall back to Earth, he said.

During the contest, a group of competitors will skate in the park at the same time, in what is known as a jam format, while several judges watch and evaluate the variety and difficulty of the tricks performed as well as style. Those who place will earn points. There will be another skate contest in September and points will be combined to determine series winners, Moran said.

While the contest scores people to determine who is best, skateboarding isn’t really a competitive sport in the traditional sense, Moran said.

“I see it as a live art form,” he said. “So much of it is about personal expression.”

That, he said, makes it fun to watch, even if a person doesn’t skate.

For more information call the Boardroom at 733-8327.

About Kelsey Dayton

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